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Ottertail Creamery unveiled Aug. 8

A community open house, complete with tours and refreshments, is planned at the Ottertail Creamery on August 8, from 12-5 p.m.1 / 3
Right, Carol Ervasti (foreground) and Marcy Ugstad plant flowers around the creamery building in preparation for the open house August 8.2 / 3
Far right, a two story tower that was added onto the original Ottertail Creamery structure.3 / 3

After decades of gradual deterioration, the historic Ottertail Creamery building is now a thriving Main Street staple once again.

When Firestarters Ministries first purchased the building a few years ago, it was in a state of disrepair, with paint peeling from every surface and thousands of old tires packed into the crumbling brick building.

Now, less than a year into the renovation process, the public is invited to an official open house for the restored creamery building. On Saturday, August 8, after the 11 a.m. Otter Fest parade, the Firestarters group is offering tours of the creamery from 12 - 5 p.m.

Refreshments, including lemonade and cookies, will be served at the open house. People will also have an opportunity to sign up for door prizes.

A new tour group will start out every five minutes, with the creamery tour covering the entire building. Tour guides will share some of the historical background of the building, which was built in 1921.

Visitors will be shown around the first and second floors of the building. The second floor of the building is the current meeting spot for the Firestarters church--with services held Sunday nights at 6 p.m. Live music is planned during the Saturday tours.

After touring the second level of the creamery, visitors will have the opportunity to climb up a spiral staircase into the building's "observation tower." The tower has two levels in it, with the top part of the octagonal structure surrounded with windows on every side. From the top of the tower seven lakes are visible.

On the main floor of the building, the tour will pass through one room that hasn't been restored yet. This provides an interesting reference point to see how far the renovation process has come.

Also on the first floor are two retail shops and a ministry-based coffee shop with an espresso bar and drip coffee. Brand new Ottertail Creamery t-shirts, mugs, and postcards will be sold. A special "Ottertail Creamery" coffee blend will also be available for purchase by the bag.

"We want people to come in and enjoy it," Pete Thiel, Firestarters Ministries, says of the creamery.

Thiel, along with help from several guys with the Firestarters group, first started demolition on the creamery building in September of 2008. "All of the young adults in our ministry love the building. We started dreaming about what it could become," he explains.

"We never dreamed that we'd be where we are in 10 months," Thiel says. "We thought we were staring a couple of years of work in the face. Now, we're already in the building."

As for the reason behind the restoration of the landmark creamery building, Thiel explains, "We felt like it was our responsibility to do it. It's not just about restoring the brick and the plaster; it's about restoring the building back to the city of Ottertail."